2016 Volume 12 Issue 1 Pages 2-14
Objective. Changes in thinking and behavior of consumers are required to solve global environmental problems. Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems may play a significant role for increasing attention to energy issues and behavioral change. The present study focuses on a concept of “psychological proximity to PV systems”, that is, a feeling that regards PV systems as a symbol and attachment object, and aims to revealwhether and how it affects energy-saving behavior based on the Value-Belief-Norm (VBN) theory in the social-psychological field. Questionnaire surveys were conducted with 281 households which send their children to three nursery schools (two with and one without PV systems) in Iida city, Nagano prefecture. The questionnaire comprises about 20 questions such as the psychological proximity to PV systems, awareness of energy issues, energy-saving behavior. The collected data was statistically analyzed to find causal relationships between the psychological proximity of PV systems and variables in the VBN theory. In addition, an intervention study to increase the psychological proximity to PV systems at a nursery school was carried out to observe changes in VBN variables associated with the proximity increase.
Results and Discussion. The results of covariance structure analysis show that the psychological proximity to PV systems positively affects some VBN variables, suggesting that it encourages energy-saving behavior through activating the altruistic and biospheric value, and might directly promote two types of energy-saving behavior (i.e. domestic energy-saving behavior, support of energy saving policies). Furthermore, statistical analysis of the intervention study data finds that there is an almost significant relationship between two increases in the psychological proximity to PV systems and the altruistic and biospheric value. Consequently, the psychological proximity to PV systems may directly and indirectly facilitate to engage people in more energy-saving behavior.
Conclusions and Perspectives. The present study revealed a possible mechanism to generate energy-saving behavior when PV systems exist in our daily living area and we have a positive feeling for them. An important conclusion is that the mechanism seems to be different from those to explain behavioral change by conventional energy and environmental education. In the future, authors will collect data by using more long-term follow up survey to thoroughly analyze the mechanism. In addition, we plan to improve the intervention study, and provide effective measures to increase the psychological proximity of PV systems.